Strategic ties with UAE likely to result in billion-pound defence contracts for UK

UK defence companies would benefit from a more energetic UK-UAE bilateral relationship, especially since the UAE is keen to replace its ageing Mirage fighter jets with the BAE Systems Typhoon in a deal worth $10 billion (c. £8bn), according to a new paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

As the UK appears to strategically orientate its defence and security posture towards the Gulf region from 2014, with the Minhad airbase in Dubai undoubtedly forming a major focal point of the future British presence, new research suggests that the UAE government is also committed to reinvigorating its relationship with the British; possibly at the expense of other potential strategic alliances.

Defence Industry and the Reinvigorated UK-UAE Security Relationship, addresses the ambitions and perceived strategic and operational needs of the UAE in the context of its bilateral relationship with the UK. Exploring notions of defence industries and the military component, the paper considers the UAE’s visions for its economic and defence and security, and how these shape and refine its policy actions and responses.

‘It seems clear that something significant is unfolding in the defence and security relationship between the UK and the UAE. As yet, it is not fully understood or indeed completely open to public scrutiny. The British military is developing a smart presence in the region post-Afghanistan and the UAE is seeking to enhance and refresh a historical relationship as it works to contain Iran and address a myriad of geopolitical hazards and risks. So far, so conventional; but there is a defence-industrial component to this refreshed defence and security relationship that is intriguing and hints at the centrality of defence-industrial considerations in twenty-first century notions of security and international diplomacy’ the report concludes.

‘Beyond this ‘smart’ basing, however, lies the potential for increased mutual defence and security through the development of the defence-industrial relationship between the UAE and the UK; this may prove to be more significant, enduring and strategic than plans for highly visible military co-operation or the provision of host-nation facilities.’

‘The country [UAE] is the fourth-largest defence importer globally and is expected to spend about $52.3 billion on defence and security equipment in the next four years. In comparison, the 2012 spending for defence was about $9.3 billion. This market could be a significant prize for a Western state face with stagnating (or falling) national defence budgets and shrinking demand for home orders for its indigenous defence industries. It hints at, in part, the British government’s motivation for a refreshed relationship with its peers in Abu Dhabi.

Full article: Strategic ties with UAE likely to result in billion-pound defence contracts for UK (Royal United Services Institute)

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